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Lucasfilm

6 Things that Resemble the Death Star

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Lucasfilm

It's a simple shape, a sphere with a concave dish set in the surface. In 1977, the shape was forever linked to the movie Star Wars and is known as the Death Star. In the movie, it was a space station as large as a natural moon that housed the "ultimate weapon", a planet-destroying laser.

1. Hotel Full Moon

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The Hotel Full Moon in Baku, Azerbaijan is a design from Heerim Architects of Korea, to be built on a peninsula overlooking Full Moon Bay. The luxury hotel will have 382 rooms in its 35 stories. Another hotel on the bay will be called Hotel Crescent, also with a shape to follow its name.

2. Convention Center Near Dubai

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The RAK Convention and Exhibition Center in the new city of Ras al Khaimah, UAE looks very much like the Death Star. A project still in the concept stage from the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, the design is the result of a competition. The project team is led by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, who also designed the CCTV building in Beijing. The building will hold hotels, offices, restaurants, and stores as well as a convention hall. See more pictures here.

3. Belarus National Library

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The Belarus National Library moved into a new building in 2006. It's not spherical; the shape is a rhombicuboctahedron (try saying that three times fast). During the day, the 24 sides sparkle with glass panels. At night, they are illuminated by 4646 color-changing LEDs. The Minsk building is imposing and not without controversy. It has been referred to as the Death Star both because of the way it looks and how it was financed.

4. AT&T Logo

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AT&T's world globe logo was designed by Saul Bass in 1984, replacing the phone logo that had been in use for nearly 100 years. This came about because of the forced breakup of Ma Bell into seven regional "baby bells". SBC Communications bought AT&T in 2005, and a new, slightly different logo was unveiled. The newest one hides the classic death star spot somewhat better, but some can still seethe Evil Empire in the logo.

5. Panapet

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The distinctive shape of the Death Star was around before Star Wars. It's possible that George Lucas, or some of the other creative minds behind Star Wars owned a Panasonic R-70 transistor radio, marketed as the Panapet. Verylikely, in fact, since it seemed everyone had one. They were produced in the early 70s.

6. Mimas

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The most amazing similacrum of the Death Star is Mimas, one of the inner moons of Saturn. It has an 80-mile-wide crater named Herschel, which looks like it could easily focus a superlaser. The uncanny resemblence is coincidental, as Star Wars was made several years before the first photographs of Mimas with its crater were taken.

If you love the shape, and don't want to travel to Dubai, or Minsk, or Saturn, you can build your own Death Star with a Lego kit -or just watch someone else do it.

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FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images
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Design
China's New Tianjin Binhai Library is Breathtaking—and Full of Fake Books
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FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

A massive new library in Tianjin, China, is gaining international fame among bibliophiles and design buffs alike. As Arch Daily reports, the five-story Tianjin Binhai Library has capacity for more than 1 million books, which visitors can read in a spiraling, modernist auditorium with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves.

Several years ago, municipal officials in Tianjin commissioned a team of Dutch and Japanese architects to design five new buildings, including the library, for a cultural center in the city’s Binhai district. A glass-covered public corridor connects these structures, but the Tianjin Binhai Library is still striking enough to stand out on its own.

The library’s main atrium could be compared to that of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Guggenheim Museum in New York City. But there's a catch: Its swirling bookshelves don’t actually hold thousands of books. Look closer, and you’ll notice that the shelves are printed with digital book images. About 200,000 real books are available in other rooms of the library, but the jaw-dropping main room is primarily intended for socialization and reading, according to Mashable.

The “shelves”—some of which can also serve as steps or seating—ascend upward, curving around a giant mirrored sphere. Together, these elements resemble a giant eye, prompting visitors to nickname the attraction “The Eye of Binhai,” reports Newsweek. In addition to its dramatic main auditorium, the 36,000-square-foot library also contains reading rooms, lounge areas, offices, and meeting spaces, and has two rooftop patios.

Following a three-year construction period, the Tianjin Binhai Library opened on October 1, 2017. Want to visit, but can’t afford a trip to China? Take a virtual tour by checking out the photos below.

A general view of the Tianjin Binhai Library
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

People visiting China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

A general view of China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

A woman taking pictures at China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

A man visiting China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

A woman looking at books at China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

A general view of China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

People visiting China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

[h/t Newsweek]

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Pol Viladoms
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architecture
One of Gaudí's Most Famous Homes Opens to the Public for the First Time
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Pol Viladoms

Visiting buildings designed by iconic Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí is on the to-do list of nearly every tourist passing through Barcelona, Spain, but there's always been one important design that visitors could only view from the outside. Constructed between 1883 and 1885, Casa Vicens was the first major work in Gaudí's influential career, but it has been under private ownership for its entire existence. Now, for the first time, visitors have the chance to see inside the colorful building. The house opened as a museum on November 16, as The Art Newspaper reports.

Gaudí helped spark the Catalan modernism movement with his opulent spaces and structures like Park Güell, Casa Batlló, and La Sagrada Familia. You can see plenty of his architecture around Barcelona, but the eccentric Casa Vicens is regarded as his first masterpiece, famous for its white-and-green tiles and cast-iron gate. Deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005, Casa Vicens is a treasured part of the city's landscape, yet it has never been open to the public.

Then, in 2014 the private Spanish bank MoraBanc bought the property with the intention of opening it up to visitors. The public is finally welcome to take a look inside following a $5.3 million renovation. To restore the 15 rooms to their 19th-century glory, designers referred to historical archives and testimonies from the descendants of former residents, making sure the house looked as much like Gaudí's original work as possible. As you can see in the photos below, the restored interiors are just as vibrant as the walls outside, with geometric designs and nature motifs incorporated throughout.

In addition to the stunning architecture, museum guests will find furniture designed by Gaudí, audio-visual materials tracing the history of the house and its architect, oil paintings by the 19th-century Catalan artist Francesc Torrescassana i Sallarés, and a rotating exhibition. Casa Vicens is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. General admission costs about $19 (€16).

An empty room in the interior of Casa Vicens

Interior of house with a fountain and arched ceilings

One of the house's blue-and-white tiled bathrooms

[h/t The Art Newspaper]

All images courtesy of Pol Viladoms.

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